Whether you’re trying to experience the great outdoors, work up a sweat by getting active, take a day off at the beach, or just give in to the endless supply of family-friendly theme parks, in Orlando you’re not going to be short of an adventure. The endless supply of rollercoasters, theme rides, displays and parades from Disney and Universal make up most of Orlando’s most common attractions. But if you can tear yourself (and maybe more challengingly, the kids) away from the parks, there’s plenty to see and do in the city and neighboring Central Florida.
- Hit The Theme Parks Standalone
- Splash Down At A Waterpark
- Go Golfing
- Experience A Live Show
- Escape To A Spa
- Airboat On The Everglades
- Race In A NASCAR
- Hot Air Ballooning
Hit The Theme Parks Standalone
With so many to choose from and an infinite number of ticket combinations, it can be a little confusing to get your head around the mega-line-up of theme parks by Orlando. Let’s give you a summary: Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando are the two main parks here.
Walt Disney World operates four independent theme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and the Animal Kingdom by Disney) and two water parks. Additionally, Universal Orlando consists of two different parks, the Florida Universal Studios and the Adventure Islands of Universal. You can buy individual park tickets and’ park-hopper’ passes for both. Passes of the easy day cost about $100. Some Florida attractions include SeaWorld and Gatorland, which appear to be a little smaller.
Every year, Orlando theme parks seem to grow in number, proving consistently to be the top tourist attraction in the region. The city hasn’t earned a reputation as’ the world’s theme park capital’ for nothing–both Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando ® Resort have about 10 different big-name attractions between them, not to mention vibrant live shows and nightlife zones in these vast resorts. You will also experience the numerous aquatic experiences at SeaWorld, as well as local parks.
You will also enjoy the various aquatic attractions of SeaWorld, along with independent parks that accommodate a rather niche audience, be it all zip-lining over alligator-infested swamps or ‘ old school ‘ parks with decades-old rollercoasters and games in fairground style.
Splash Down At A Waterpark
One of the most common ways to escape the heat during Orlando’s long, hot summers is to visit a waterpark (May–October sees average daily temperatures above 75 ° F). Just like the theme parks, there is no shortage of places for the city and surrounding metropolitan area to cool off while sliding down flumes, navigating the rapids, and diving into the wave pools.
With its Dolphin Plunge and oblivion-style plunge drops, the slightly more expensive Aquatica (next to SeaWorld) is more spectacular, while Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach offer less conventional surfing activities such as snorkeling with sharks and melting snow-capped peaks.
Aquatica is one of the newest and most popular waterparks in Orlando, located at SeaWorld, south of Orlando City. The amazing’ Dolphin Plunge’ gets the most attention here among a day full of enjoyable slides and water attractions. It’s a ride that allows you to slide around the surrounding pool through a transparent tube with dolphins swimming. The massive 59-acre park is open all year round, with day tickets available for $126 for Aquatica costing about $47 and annual Aquatica + SeaWorld passes.
Golfing in Orland is a very popular activity, and what do you think? Disney has four courses of its own! These are the real deal, apart from the Mickey Mouse-shaped bunkers and marked flags. At Magnolia, Lake Buena Vista, Palm, and Oak Trail, you can find both 9- and 18-hole courses.
Away from Disney, other popular Orlando golf courses include Bay Hill Club & Lounge, Grand Cypress Resort, and the highly-rated Waldorf Astoria course, among dozens of others. A single round generally starts at the $50 mark per person, with equipment normally available for hire.
Experience A Live Show
Catching some live theater or music is a hugely popular after-dark event in Orlando, with the city and surrounding metropolis boasting hundreds of state-of-the-art theaters and concert halls. On the music front, at some point in their career, almost anyone who’s anyone comes to Orlando, from pop acts like Bieber and Gaga to international dance DJs selling out 10,000 + capacity venues.
Keep an eye out for the ever-changing line-up at Hard Rock Live and House of Blues (both at Universal), while Downtown’s massive Amway Center features big names each month across a wide range of genres. For the theater, nightly at Downtown Disney, catch the Blue Man Group at Universal Orlando or the famous Cirque du Soleil La Nouba.
Find a good selection of smaller, less touristy theaters and shows, such as the long-running SAK Comedy Lab on Orange Avenue. Fantasmic for children! It’s an utter must at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as is the firework display on the famous Cinderella Castle at dusk.
A blend of family-friendly entertainment, talented casts, and impressive audio-visuals are the best live shows in Orlando. With all the major theme parks trying to outdo each other with live shows in and around their buildings, Orlando guests are introduced to some fantastic performances that will remain in the mind for a long time. It may be their favorite characters for children to come to life, and for adults, attention to detail and great production standards mean that everyone is captivated throughout the series. Some of the best live Orlando shows on our list are set for the night, many during the day, but all of them are worth a hunt, whether it’s your first trip to the city or you’re a regular visitor.
Escape To A Spa
With so many luxury hotels – and the added pressure of racing around theme parks for kids all day long – it’s no surprise that for that much-needed ‘ me time ‘ Orlando is host to a long list of spas. In the city’s top hotels, such as Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Four Seasons, Waldorf and Orlando World Center Marriot, many of the best places to ease the aches, pains and tired limbs from sightseeing. We recommend The Spa LLC on Edgewater Drive, Woodhouse Day Spa on Via Dellagio Way and Spa Orlando on North Summerlin Avenue for dedicated, stand-alone spa complexes.
Some of the city’s finest 5-star resorts are home to the best spas in Orlando, often with world-renowned names. We that cost a pretty penny, but we provide the best therapies for acupuncture and makeup that money can buy. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing oil massage to ease tired tootsies or a happy day of pampering, these Orlando spas should be at the top of your list. Service is also exemplary, with experienced masseuses having extensive experience. You could always book to stay at these luxury resorts in Orlando, of course.
Airboat On The Everglades
A look at a map of central/south Florida and it is clear that the region boasts a variety of terrain, including the vast, swampy and often reptile-infested Everglades. There is no better way to experience what the locals claim to be’ real Florida’ than to take an exciting airboat ride to the water.
The Florida Everglades starts at the Kissimmee River around the Orlando area, with the expanded watershed spanning much of the state’s southern tip. Boggy Creek, Shingle Creek, Lake Kissimmee, and Lake Toho are the top spots for airboat trips and Everglade safari tours for those living in and around the Orlando area.
Airboating is the best and most thrilling way to experience what the locals call’ the real Florida’–the Everglades, in general. The combination of a powerful aircraft engine and propeller fastened to a flat-bottomed boat’s back creates the only viable way to get around this vast swampy area, which is also a lot of fun.
The Everglades is a vast wetland area in southern Florida, originating just south of Orlando at the Kissimmee River. It runs from there into the vast yet shallow Lake Okeechobee and then into a 100-mile-long, 60-mile-wide swamp. The area is home to a remarkable ecosystem, which is thought to include some 11,000 plant species, 400 animal species, 163 bird species, and 174 insect species. Of these numbers, the most notable is the large resident population of alligators.
Race In A NASCAR
Have you ever imagined what it would be like to drive around a circuit in a 600-horsepower NASCAR? You can do just that at Disney’s Richard Petty Driving Experience, strapping yourself into the front seat with an experienced driver for a trip along, and pushing yourself for 8–50 laps ($109–$1,299) to the wheel.
All security gear, protection, and orientation are included in the kit. Riders must be at least 14 years of age and drivers must have a full driving license at least 18 years of age. Go to the famous I-Drive NASCAR–an indoor go-kart track just off International Drive for some somewhat more family-friendly racing activities. Races pay $25 ago, and the same building also has bowling facilities.
Hot Air Ballooning
Bringing up Orlando to the sky is a memorable way to see the city from another perspective. Services like Orlando Balloon Rides work out of the suburbs, with personalized flights taking you through the best of what Orlando has to offer in terms of natural scenery, as well as flying past some of the big birds-eye-view theme parks. Flights usually leave early in the morning or at night when the weather is most suitable, with fares per passenger typically beginning at about $150.
Orlando Balloon Rides allow you to see Orlando from new heights as you take a fantastic hot air balloon ride across Disney World and enjoy the sights across Orlando. Orlando Balloon Rides was founded in 1985 and is one of Orlando’s most trusted adventure providers and one of the largest operators of hot air balloons.
Each journey starts with deflation–a thrilling 20 minutes of seeing the balloon come to life before you can take off in the sky. The balloons can climb into the sky far beyond the tops of the tree and up to approximately 1,000 ft.
Usually, the ride lasts about 1 hour and takes you across the orange groves, theme parks and swamp forests that make Florida and unique. When the climate is beautiful and the air is quiet, all the rides start at sunrise, so you get the best views of the cityscape and surrounding area.